Crew Ends Week With Robonaut Upgrades and Life Science – August 29, 2014

Expedition 40 is heading into the Labor Day weekend with crew health checks and humanoid robot upgrades. In the meantime, a trio of orbital residents is packing up gear as they prepare to return home in less than two weeks.

Commander Steve Swanson powered down and stowed Robonaut 2 after wrapping up its mobility upgrades this week. He installed new legs on the humanoid robot including external and internal gear as well as cables.

This sets the stage for more upgrades in the fall before Robonaut takes its first steps as an assistant crew member. Robonaut was designed to enhance crew productivity and safety while also aiding people on Earth with physical disabilities.

First time space-flyers Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst from the European Space Agency got together for more eye exams Friday morning. They swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer and performed Ultrasound scans of each other’s eyes in conjunction with blood pressure checks.

Gerst partnered up in the afternoon with Swanson for more eye scans and blood pressure checks for the Ocular Health study. The duo called down to ground specialists for assistance with the scans and an echocardiogram. The medical experiment observes changes that occur in the visual, vascular, and central nervous system upon exposure to microgravity and the resulting fluid shifts.

Towards the end of the day, Gerst dismounted and stowed rendezvous gear used during the approach and docking of the “Georges Lemaître,” Europe’s fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle, to the Zvezda service module on Aug. 12. Finally, he worked in the Columbus lab to begin set up work for the Energy experiment. The study, developed in France for the European Space Agency, looks at nutrition as a way to maintain crew energy balance, health and performance on long duration space missions.

Wiseman was in the station’s U.S. segment taking samples of the air using the Microbial Air Sampler with petri dishes. He stowed the petri dish samples in bags for later analysis. After lunch, he swabbed surfaces in the U.S. segment using media slides to collect microbial samples. The sampling work is part of the station’s Environmental Health System meant to ensure the health and safety of the crew.

Departing cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev donned Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suits for exercises designed to reduce the stress of returning to Earth’s gravity on their bodies. Skvortsov also gathered items to eventually be packed in the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft that will return the duo, including Swanson, home on Sept. 10.

Artemyev continued the Immuno experiment work started by Skvortsov on Thursday. He drew his blood samples in the morning and collected his saliva samples in the evening then stowed the research equipment. The life science study examines saliva, blood and urine samples to observe changes in a crew member’s stress and immune responses while living in space.

Artemyev was back at work with upcoming station commander Suraev in the Zarya cargo module working on its interior panels. The first time cosmonaut then moved into the Zvezda for a photo inspection of its interior panels. Suraev stayed in Zarya mounting applied plates on its interior panels and treating them with disinfectant.

Suraev, a veteran cosmonaut, started his day on the Russian Calcium experiment which seeks to reveal the causes of calcium loss in the bones of a crew member living in space. Finally, he installed the Universal Biotechnology Incubator in the Poisk mini-research module.

[ More Information ]